Gov. Deal holding line on spending despite record Georgia tax take

The state of Georgia is taking in record tax collections and hiring again after years of cutbacks.

But as state agencies prepare to develop their budget plans for the coming year, Gov. Nathan Deal’s office is sending them a message: don’t come to me with your hand out.

A memo from Teresa MacCartney, the governor’s budget director, tells agencies, “Gov. Deal will maintain a conservative fiscal management budget strategy in order to plan for any economic contingencies by asking agencies to maintain FY 2017 spending levels for agency programs.”

The instructions are similar to the ones agencies have been given ever since Deal took office in 2011.

But a lot has changed since then. Deal took office when Georgia was still feeling the impact of the Great Recession, when teachers and state employees were still taking furloughs to help make ends meet.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported earlier this month that - in part because of higher gas taxes - the state took in 9.4 percent more tax money in the recently completed fiscal 2016 than it did the previous year. And as the AJC reported on Sunday, the state is also funding the hiring of thousands of new school district and state employees after years of trimming payrolls .

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